|Angelo 'The Cobra' Santana - Boxing Bio
By Media report on Doghouse Boxing (Jan 27, 2009)
Two-Time Cuban National Champion
Born in San Cristobal, Cuba, now living in Miami, Fla.
Height: 5’ 8” Weight: Lightweight (135)
Record: 4-0 (3 KOs)
Angelo Santana is literally fighting for his life and family. While his family remains in their Cuban home to this day, Angelo made the fateful decision to bolt his native country on a make-shift boat to be re-united with his childhood sweetheart and the hope of a better life. Love can make you do crazy things.
Born into what he calls “a humble existence” in San Cristobal, Cuba, he is the middle brother among the three sons of Pedro and Felicia Santana. Angelo is the unusual boxer who came from a family that loved baseball best. His father was pretty a pretty good player, and his brothers played the game as well.
“I was always a restless kid,” Santana said of what might be called Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder in America. “I was always throwing rocks, getting into fights. I was more of a playful joker than a really bad kid. I just couldn’t stop moving.”
His father took him to a boxing gym to try to help Angelo channel his energy. He ended up becoming his amateur trainer.
While in the fourth grade, government sports officials came to his school and young Angelo was the only one to raise his hand when they asked if anyone wanted to box. At age 9, he stopped his first opponent.
“I enjoyed the fact you have to be quick, tenacious and decisive in boxing,” Santana said. “These are things that come natural to me; things I enjoy. Truthfully, I’ve stopped just about everyone I have ever faced.”
He compiled a staggering amateur record of 180-3 on his boxing-crazed island, becoming a seven-time regional champion and two-time national champion.
As good of a boxer as he had become, the government was reluctant to allow him to travel to meets abroad due to the fact numerous of his uncles and cousins had defected. The turning point came when he was just 16, and his childhood sweetheart, Anay, was 14. She left Cuba legally with her family headed for Miami.
“I knew right there and then I wanted to follow her there,” Santana said.
Young love and the dream of a better life are powerful things in life. The restless kid turned his thoughts and energies towards a plan that led to him and 27 others to venture into the Atlantic Ocean in the summer of 2007 on a makeshift flotilla of wood and tire inner tubes.
After three days adrift on the ocean the fledgling mariners washed to freedom on the shores of South Florida. Soon he was reunited with Anay and her family, who let him move in with them.
His dizzying journey continued to shock when just 10 days after his arrival on Sept. 1, 2007, he had found a boxing manager, and legendary promoter Don King had agreed to represent him.
“Anybody willing to swim all the way to Miami in search of freedom is my kind of guy,” King said. “I signed him sight unseen because I believe he had earned an opportunity in the land of opportunity.”
King, who rarely likes to do anything small, put Santana into Madison Square Garden a few months later for his first professional fight on the undercard of the superbout between Tito Trinidad and Roy Jones Jr. on Jan. 19, 2008.
“I felt like a complete hillbilly,” Santana said. “I was just a 19-year-old kid from Cuba one minute and the next I’m fighting with my heroes on a big fight card in New York City. The idea of fighting at Madison Square Garden had never even crossed my mind but there I was. I was overwhelmed to say the least. It was like a dream.”
To motivate his young charge, fight manager Armando Fernandez told Santana he needed a knockout for King to keep him in his stable. Not only did he stop his opponent in the first round, he knocked out his first three opponents in the first round. In his last appearance and fourth fight on Sept. 26, he won a four-round match by decision, but he says the only reason he didn’t win by knockout was because he hurt his ribs in training but refused to postpone the match.
Santana will be fighting again soon on big fight cards promoted by King, meeting more of his childhood heroes and great world champions. The difference is that he is beginning to see more clearly the opportunity he has been given.
“I am living one dream, boxing professionally and reuniting with my girlfriend and her family in South Florida,” Santana said. “Another dream is to keep winning and move up the ranks so I will be able to bring my mother and father to live with me in America. I believe it is my destiny to fight for a world championship. I also believe my mother and father will be with me in the arena when I get my chance.”
If history is any guide, no dream is too big or unachievable for Angelo Santana.
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